‘I’ve caught the Olympic fever from Jessica!’

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Sorry Thame, I cheated on you. Don’t feel sad, it’s my fault, not yours and I hope we can still be friends.

You see, last week’s column wasn’t fresh. It was my back up story in case of emergency. Usually I write these articles on the spur of the moment (what do you mean you can tell?), but last week I was away in America on business and so had to use up my spare article. Sorry. If you see one about Red Kites in the future, you’ll know I’ve done it again.

Anyway, being away in the States meant that I missed out on the start of National Sports Day. Mrs The Thamensian skyped me to say she was going to the rehearsal for the opening ceremony and then I saw bits of it on TV in America, but it’s hard to gauge just how much of an impact an event like this is having when you are away overseas. A couple of Americans told me they loved the opening, and I joked with them, to test their irony: “Oh yes, the Queen parachuted in” I told them, being sarcastic.

When I finally came home last week the Games were in full swing, but a spot of jetlag and my underlying cynicism set me against the jingotastic tub thumping that I saw all around me. “Wow, you spent over £30 on petrol so you are entitled to the full set of Olympic coins for just £10” said the man at BP, misjudging my mood completely. I looked at the coins. Sir Chris Hoy looked like Ian Beale. Dame Kelly looked like Dame Edna …

I declined his kind upselling offer and continued in my grumpy anti-Olympic fashion for the next 24 hours.

And then something wonderful happened.

I believe her name is Jessica. You may have heard of her.

Young Ms Ennis’s performance in the heptathlon was one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen in sport. To have the weight and expectation of the entire nation on her slender shoulders and to then perform to such heights was simply magnificent. Mo and the Ginge were brilliant as well.

For a cynical old hack like me the Olympics was supposed to offer a chance to mock poor old Boris dangling on his zipwire, or the security arrangements, or our failure to win gold.

It’s part of the national psyche to love a loser.

But the last two weeks have been all about saluting success instead.

Nobody in the UK could possibly fail to catch Olympic fever. It has been superb.

They keep talking about all the golds ‘inspiring the next generation’. Go on then Thame kids.

Don’t just watch. Get out and do it. I’ll proudly watch your efforts from my sofa in four years’ time, wearing my Ian Beale medal.